Short or long vowels?

  How many vowels does Arabic have?

Arabic has three short vowels and three long vowels reaching a total of six vowels.

Watch videos
 (under 2.5 min each):


Video 1- Short or long vowel?


Video 2- Mix it up like mad! Add short & long vowels.

  Click and listen to all six vowels. You will first hear the short vowel then its long counterpart.

* The below applies to both MSA and Egyptian Colloquial.  

Three short vowels


Three long vowels

fatha (a)

1 alif (aa)  

dumma (u)

2 waaw (uu)

xasra (i)

3 yih (ii)



  Be careful...

1- Short vowels are half-time compared to long vowels. Hearing the difference between a short vowel and a long vowel is not only tricky but a cornerstone to learning to read and to spell Arabic.

You will confuse a long for a short vowel, and the reverse, for sometime to come. So make a point to get good at them from the get-go.

2- For practice listen to the short and long vowels attached to the Arabic alphabet.

3- All three long vowels can also be consonants. So how do you know if the
alif, waaw, and yih are long vowels or consonant?

Well, surprisingly, students have found it extremely easy to "feel" vowel extensions from consonants.


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